Marillion's newest effort is Made Again which covers a time period of the five years since Steve Hogarth joined the band; three tours (London '91, Paris '94 and Rotterdam '95) and four albums (Season's End, Holidays In Eden, Afraid Of Sunlight and Brave). The band is looking forward to touring the States on the next studio album.
Q&A with Mark Kelly
SR: Hello Mark. I'm just listening to your spacey keyboards. You've been doing
interviews all day.
MK: You're the last one.
SR: The last time I saw you guys was at the Warfield in San Francisco. Fish was
still in the band, I think about '87. Bring me up to date on finding the new
MK: After we took that picture we went home and Fish left the band. (laughter abounds) It wasn't a surprise to us. Even on that tour we had begun to drift apart socially. I almost don't remember how it came about. The thing was on a musical level things were starting to go wrong between us and Fish. We were trying to write a new album after we came back from that tour and we just couldn't agree on anything..the lyrics and the music. It just became too much of a struggle. Arguments broke out and in the end he decided to leave. We though he wouldn't and then we though he would.
SR: Season's End was that first album after Fish.
MK: We had written pretty much all of the music for that album by the time he left We started looking for a new singer and kept on writing. It wasn't too long..maybe six months before we found Steve Rothery. We went into the studio and within six weeks we had the album written.
SR: Everyone in accord. That's the way it has to be.
MK: Absolutely. We were happier than we'd been in a long time. Steve really fit in, no arguments and everyone was having a good time. We recorded it in record time. It was just a much nicer atmosphere for working.
SR: You've almost always produced yourselves.
MK: That one we did produce ourselves. You know what, we found it's a strain because we all think we know best. We all have ideas but if we disagree with each other it doesn't come to blows since we have someone there who we've designated as the producer. Then we don't feel that we're having to struggle with each other to get the ideas across. If you have a good idea, then presumably, our chosen producer would recognize it as a good idea and we'd go on from there.
SR: What's Rothery's background?
MK: His first band was European. They were a minor success in a few countries in Europe, but most people wouldn't have heard of them. They split up after a few years and he started a new band with the guitarist called How We Live. That was even less of a success but he had a record deal with Sony and his publishing deal is what led him to join Marillion. They knew we were looking for a singer and thought he should audition. We had never heard of him before. He knew about Marillion but had never seen us play. He really didn't know what he was letting himself for. I think in a way it was a good thing. We had a lot of people come along thinking they knew what Fish would do and the thought they could imitate him. That's not what we wanted. We had to find someone different to Fish.
SR: I love reading his diaries. I hope Steve will publish them.
MK: Steve started doing that a few years ago. I think that's his plan ultimately. I find it interesting. It's a nice easy style.
SR: Everyone wants to know what's really going on with their favorite band.
What you do before the show, who you hang out with and all that. MK: (laughing) You'll never find out what's really going on until all the members of the band are divorced. No, seriously Steve read the same book as me. This is what prompted him to start writing. When I was a kid I read Diary Of A Rock And Roll Star by Ian Hunter who was in Mott the Hoople. They toured America in 1972 and the book was all about that tour. I loved it and it was great. Everyday stuff to him, but for me at age 14 it was really amazing. In those days his writing must have been quite shocking. All about drugs and it was great to see that he had the guts to write it all down and share it with his fans. Steve doesn't write every day but he keeps it up pretty good. When we're on the road he tend to write more often. When we came to do the live album we went back to see what he had written on those days. As it turned out his perception on the Paris shows, we did three dates that at the time he thought they were the best shows.
SR: Later he writes that Rotterdam was the best show. I love live albums
especially if I happened to be in the audience.
MK: We once had an idea of releasing a live album with the recordings from each country. It would have been different in every county. And, of course, record companies don't like that sort of thing.
SR: Talk about this new Castle deal. Look to me like it's going to turn our pretty good. They're working with Iron Maiden and Bruce Dickinson.
MK: We were getting a bit disillusioned, I think with EMI and the situation there. The sort of band we are doesn't really fit well with the corporate record thing. They expect you to be too much of a business person. They want you to follow the trends and be more commercial.
SR: You are a commercial band.
MK: Yes, but we're not easy to sell and to play on the radio along side Green Day and what else is happening.
SR: A lot has happened in radio in the U.S. You've got alternative and college,
but you have a new format which spun off of album radio called Alternative
Adult Album which is where you'll fit best today.
MK: Hummm. Triple A stations. Just as soon as people start to know what Marillion is all about with an album like Holidays In Eden, for example.It was a fairly commercial album with a couple of tracks that were quite radio friendly. Then we did Brave which was a 71 minute concept album with no radio tracks on it all. I think when you do that sort of thing as a band, from our point of view it's a creative move, it's a reaction to what we did last. We made a commercial album then we make a non-commercial album. We're trying to constantly move on by doing different things; but for the record company it's a nightmare because just as they start to establish us, we go and move the goal posts and change it. Then they start putting the pressure on. We parted company with EMI on fairly good terms and we managed to get them to give us the live album back. They wanted to release a live album but we wanted to put it out on another label. We felt once we left the label there wouldn't really be any commitments from the people there. We arrived at a compromise where they released it in the U.K. and Castle puts it out in the rest of the world. Castle will be releasing the next couple of albums as well.
SR: What was your last album with Capitol?
MK: That was Season's End. The first one with Steve. They lost faith in the band or gave up on the band around about Misplaced Childhood. When that wasn't a great success and when Walter Lee who was the head of Capitol got filmed by NBC news with the Mafia guys, and the whole payola scandal broke in '85-'86 we were just starting to climb up the charts nicely. The whole thing just ended there when everyone dropped Capitol Records off their playlists. At that point they were really starting to bring the machinery into play and spend a bit of money. It didn't happen because of all that. We were a new band up and coming, building up nicely and then it was thank you very much let's move on the next thing. I feel with Capitol, the following album didn't get any commitment and then with Season's End they made all the right noises with us and did nothing. We moved to I.R.S. and at the same time we moved Copeland sold I.R.S. to EMI so we ended back with the same company.
SR: For Holidays in Eden, Afraid Of Sunlight. Everytime I think about that
album I think of vampires.
MK: It's funny when we wrote that song around about the time when that Interview With A Vampire stuff came out as well. I loved all those Rice books.
SR: We have a brand new sitcom over here on Fox Network called The Kindred
which the story of several clans of vampires who are fighting it out in San
MK: Of course Ann Rice lived in San Francisco as well as New Orleans. I read all those books.
SR: Your next albums will be with Castle.
MK: We've got a live album coming out, to be honest, most people would argue that there's not much to talk about on a live album so no one would be interested in doing interviews. I can tell by the amount of interviews they've set up on this album compared to the last studio album, that they're working this one really hard. There are people at the label who really like the band.
SR: I'm hooked on the 'net. Are you online yet?
MK: I must admit I'm one of those as well. Everyone's talking about the internet/music business thing. It's good from our point of view. I surf the net and check out what people are saying about us. Some people e-mail me with questions. It is quite time consuming but it's quite informative as well to see what's being said about the band in countries we're not visiting soon. For instance, there was a guy from Portugal who mentioned that Marillion is on this soap opera and it's on five nights a week. They use the song "Beautiful" as the theme song. I phoned our manager and asked him if he knew we were on television five nights a week in Portugal and he contacted the label so now Castle is now putting out a single over there now. We wouldn't have ever know that if it hadn't been mentioned on the Internet.
SR: You're going back to England to write a new album.
MK: Everyone is working on solo projects now. That's why we're not going to reconvene as Marillion for a couple of months.
SR: Any side projects you want to mention?
MK: I suppose I should mention Steve Rothery's project which is coming out in September. Mine is no where near finished so no point in talking about that now. I'm still very much in the writing stage. Steve formed a band called The Wishing Tree with a female vocalist and I suppose it's quite reminiscent of All About Eve, quite acoustic-sounding. It might be out on Castle. Steve Hogarth is recording a album in June. We're going to start writing without Steve since he'll be busy on his own. His project will be quite different than Marillion but I don't know what since I haven't heard it. I think he sees an opportunity to do the thing we won't let him do.
SR: Was it a nice thrill when you found out that Rothery could also write?
MK: Yes, actually it was great to find out he's a great frontman onstage. He's visually exciting and he has a great connection with the audience as well.
SR: I haven't seen him perform with you guys yet.
MK: We were criticized heavily by people on the west coast because we didn't tour there in '95. We did about 20-30 dates last summer but it was all centered around the east coast and mid-west. Hopefully, we'll come back in '97 with a new studio album and do a coast to coast tour. We didn't expect to find a great singer who could write music and lyrics as well as being a great performer. It's been really great.
SR: Thanks for your time. There aren't a lot of band that continue this kind of
music. This is really a great bargain on this new Made Again live album with the
bonus tracks. What are you doing your last night in the States.
MK: I'm going to meet up with a guy called Jonathan Mover who was a drummer in Marillion briefly. He plays with Joe Satraini for the moment.
SR: I just hung out with them in Austin a couple of weeks ago. Satraini is of
course from the San Francisco Bay Area.
MK: They're playing in New York later this week but I won't be here to see them. We're just going out for a Mexican dinner.
SR: He's a great drummer. I put him right up there with Cozy Powell and John
Bonham, the heaviest and the best.
MK: You're right about his drumming. He's really good. I've known Jonathan for years maybe 12 or 13 years. So everytime I get to New York I look him up.
SR: Thanks for your time Mark.
MK: It's been a pleasure. We'll look forward to seeing you in Texas.